Is working in Japan a good idea for your career?

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However, this does not apply if you want to become an expert on Asia.

When I ask international students why they came to Japan, many of them say, “I came here because I believe that if I have work experience in Japan, I will be able to have a good job when I go back to my country.”

Is that true?

Actually, I have long had doubts about this opinion. I had heard many times that Japanese people who had worked in Europe for a long time could not find a job suitable for their career in Japan because they had built their career in Europe.

So I would like to refute the opinions of many young foreigners. If you plan to go back to your country someday, you shouldn’t work in Japan for a long time, right? That’s what I want to talk about today.

In my opinion, there are two main problems with the opinions of foreigners.

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You can’t get a job that will allow you to make a career with the language barrier.

First of all, it is almost impossible for a foreigner without having N1 to find a job that you can make a career in Japan. The exceptions are when you work for a foreign company and use English, or when you become a programmer.

For example, it is common to hear that a person who studied automotive engineering in France designs cars for Nissan, which is a member of the Renault Group. Also, I once met a French employee who sold Michelin tires. If they work like this they can use engineering knowledge and their sales acumen after returning to France.

However, none of the western employees did the same kind of work speaking Japanese. To be precise, for example, some of my Chinese friends can do that, but they started studying Japanese at 16, studied in a Japanese university from the age of 18 and work in a Japanese company with the same Japanese skills as the Japanese. Without that level of preparation, they would not be able to do the kind of difficult work that will help them develop their careers.

When talking about this career issue, it seems that most young people on working vacation or those who try to work in a Japanese company after studying for a year in Japan are called “career suicides”. I know a Frenchman who got a part-time job as a receptionist in a hotel until he was 30 and had no chance of earning enough salary to get married.

If you want to pursue a career in Japan, you should start learning Japanese around the age of 16 or study something that doesn’t require a lot of language, like programming or engineering. Of course, don’t try to be a salesman anything in the Japanese market. You will almost never be able to beat the Japanese.

The technology and know-how you acquire in Japan cannot be used in the overseas market.

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Secondly, even if you work in Japan and learn how to work in the Japanese market, will that knowledge be useful in your country? If you work in programming or architecture, there is no problem because the basic content is the same, but if you work in sales, the common sense is fatally different.

For example, let’s say you are a salesperson in a Japanese company. The customers you deal with are Japanese, or at least foreigners trying to do business with Japan. When you go back to your home country, will the experience of doing business with Japan be of any use to you? I think there are not as many European companies doing business with Japan as you think.

Japan’s only major trading partner in the EU is Germany, with 2.8% of its exports, which is very little (China’s share is 19.5%). For companies, the Euro is far away from Japan. It is not only Euro. Therefore, Latin America is even less relevant from a business point of view.

Under these circumstances, if you work for a Japanese company for many years and you go back to your home country at the age of 35… Many people around me have difficulty finding a job because they couldn’t make a career in their home country.

It doesn’t make much sense to come to Japan if you don’t intend to become an expert in Asia.

With these two points in mind, it would be career suicide to continue working in Japan without a career plan to become an Asia expert. In fact, many Westerners return to Japan after 5 years because they are tired of having to master the Japanese language to work, the glass ceiling that exists for foreigners and the lower salaries in the developed world.

If you come to Japan at 28 and lose 5 years of your life, it is infinitely more difficult to get a good job in your own country again. If you plan to come to Japan and work for more than 5 years, you will have to be prepared to live like an Asian (or Japanese) professional. Don’t forget that you will decide the direction of your life.

Becoming a Japanese professional

By the way, it’s not that Japan is a market without any merit. Although the population is declining, there are currently 120 million people in Japan, and it is expected that in 30 years there will still be 80 million people. In other words, the market is reasonably large. If you were to become a specialist in Lithuania, which has a population of 3 million, the possibility of making a living would be extremely difficult. but it is possible to be an expert in Japan.

Secondly, there are not many foreign competitors in the Japanese market. This is because the most talented people go to the United States or China, where it is easier to make money. Japan is an oasis where there are no fierce lions fighting in the business world. You can succeed in this niche market.

Also, Europeans think that it is almost impossible to learn Japanese language and culture, but this is not true either. In fact, I know some Americans and Europeans who are doing well in Japan and have adapted to Japanese culture. It’s a high barrier that becomes a huge advantage when you overcome it.

If you want to be the Jeff Bezos of 20 years from now, I would advise you to go to the United States or China. However, I believe it is also possible to be successful in Japan, living in a big house and smoking cigars.

As you can see, Japan is a country of hidden charms. To be honest, I don’t think most foreigners would do something like that, but if you can do it, you will be satisfied with your life in Japan. However, if there is a downside, it is that you may not be able to go back to your home country if you base your life too much on Japan, so understand that.

I would like you to think about this issue before you accidentally stay too long in Japan and fall into despair.

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